Outlander

7 Romantic Science Fiction Novels to Swoon for

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For my 10th birthday, my mother gave me a copy of Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine. That sci-fi novel marked the first time that I stayed up all night because of a book. I remember hiding under the covers, flashlight positioned just so that I could read but wouldn’t get caught, as I experienced the joys of summer in Green Town with 12-year-old Douglas Spaulding.

My love for sci-fi met its match when my grandmother celebrated my 16th birthday with my very first Harlequin romance novel. At that point, I didn’t have to hide as I read through the night about the tale of a handsome hero (I imagined him looking exactly like my then-crush Bobby the Football Player) wooing an equally attractive heroine (I used my always-helpful imagination to envision my short chubby brunette self magically being transformed into a tall, slender blonde).

And then at UCLA, I discovered the glory of the romantic sci-fi novel. The perfect romantic sci-fi book weaves the make-me-believe-in-true-love power of a well-written romance with the transport-me-to-another-dimension emotions of a beautifully crafted science fiction. The following seven romantic sci-fi novels meet those swoon-worthy gold standards.

Fantasy Lover by Sherrilyn Kenyon: What happens when a “love slave” who has experienced “hundreds of bedrooms over two thousand years” meets his match in the form of a woman’s sexual fantasies? Toss in the sci-fi/fantasy element of a curse, add a dash of romance in the form of an empathetic woman, and blend well with a muscular hero.

Goodbye for Now by Laurie Frankel: Science fiction authors have tackled the technological topic of what happens when a computer gets involved in romance before. But Frankel puts a different spin on it in the form of a computer simulation that can re-create those you’ve loved and lost. Will adorable Sam and sweet Meredith succeed in finding a love that is forever (well, sort of)?

Misled by Sylvia Day: Written with wit, warmth and a touch of witchcraft, this sci-fi romance features an impatient Special Task Force agent, Derek Atkinson. He’s got a yen for a sexy vampire, Sable Taylor. However, don’t make assumptions about Sable, who is willing to have “mind-blowing sex” but isn’t so sure about true love.

Midnight by Terry Bolryder: Meet Nathan Lancaster, a man who thinks he’s fine living a solo life until he meets curvy journalist Lillian Goss. She’s on a quest to discover his dark side, but can she handle the truth? This romantic sci-fi redefines both monster and hero, while shining the spotlight on the power of a determined woman.

Canyons of Night by Jayne Castle: I love a book that weaves a captivating plot with humor. Castle has crafted both in this romantic sci-fi featuring of I-read-auras heroine Charlotte Enright, ailing hero Slade Attridge (psi injuries suck!), and his protective dust bunny. Bunny, you say? Hop into the tale for details.

The E.T. Guy by V.C. Lancaster: Let’s travel to 2266, where Trump-era immigration agendas have been replaced by the deliciously named Department of Extra-Terrestrial Immigration. Lois Kennedy is an intake officer for DETI, and she’s annoyed by Zir, a refugee from planet Teiss. In true romance novel style, what seems like a rude, blunt dude, however, is really a guy who needs some polishing. Will Lois give this alien a chance?

Outlander novels by Diana Gabaldon: To quote the King in Alice in Wonderland in reference to where to begin with this series: “Begin at the beginning … and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” Claire Beauchamp Randall and Jamie Fraser come together after she’s on her second honeymoon in the Scottish Highlands with her husband in 1945. She time-travels to Scotland in 1743, where Claire is a Sassenach (outlander). Enter Scots warrior Jamie, and it’s a love story that will have you staying up all night.

What are some of your favorite romance-heavy speculative fiction books?

(image: Bantam Books)

Joanne Eglash is a writer, editor and reviewer who was in a left coast frame of mind even before she moved to California.

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Kaila Hale-Stern
Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.